knew hike was coming
BY HENRY METZ
It’s never too late to cut costs.
That’s the feeling of Don Morin and Noel Taylor, two friends who live in the Medvil Cooperative community of homes off Goffstown Back Road, where residents earlier this month approved a budget that will increase rents to $455 a month for association members and $660 a month for residents who are not members of the cooperative.
“When we got the annual budget packet, I just felt as though the increases in there were more than what was necessary to operate this place,” said Morin, as he and his longtime fishing buddy, Taylor, sipped coffee at Morin’s kitchen table last week. “I offered suggestions on what they could do to keep rents down, but no one on the board seemed too interested in it.”
As it stands now, the typical monthly rent paid by association members can range anywhere from $250 to $405. Depending on an individual’s circumstances, rents could increase anywhere from 12 to 82 percent next spring.
The increases are expected to take effect in April.
Kim Capen, president of the Medvil Cooperative Board of Directors, said the adjustment in the rates should come as no surprise to residents.
“One of the problems is that some of the people in the community have lost sight of the fact that our purchase requirements dictated that this day would come,” he said.
What’s more, he believes that despite what others say, the Medvil board has aggressively explored ways to reduce expenditures.
“There’s no limit to what we want to explore to cut costs. I think all the boards have been open to that idea, but we’ve been in a very, very tough economic climate,” Capen said. “We have people constantly looking at ideas.”
In 2006, residents of two subdivisions --- Medford Farms and The Village of Glen Falls --- formed the Medvil Cooperative, which bought the community of roughly 300 mobile homes and double-wide manufactured homes from the Kilmartin-Marino family for $11.3 million. Today, the cooperative is run by a nine-member board of directors elected by the cooperative’s members.
Under the 2006 purchase agreement, Morin said, it was made clear to residents that they would face a $15-a-month increase in their rents the first year, $15-a-month increase in their rents the second year, followed by 6 percent increases in each of the following two years.
At various times prior to the cooperative’s annual meeting on Nov. 14, Morin had proposed forming committees to look into ways to cut costs.
The way he sees it, three committees could look into the following: reducing operational costs, refinancing the mobile home park, and looking into obtaining relief from the town in the way of tax abatements.
“Nobody has said we have all the answers,” said Taylor. “But if you don’t ask the questions, how do you know what kind of answers we’ll get.”
For Morin and Taylor, looking to cut costs should be an ongoing process. And despite what everybody says about the current state of the economy, they see this recession as an opportunity for the cooperative.
“If you can reduce costs 5 or 6 percent, that’s big savings. You’ve got to look further; you’ve got to keep looking,” said Morin. “We have two mortgages – one 6.5 percent; the other 8 percent. Why can’t we get a lower rate? Right now, mortgage money’s cheap. Why wouldn’t you at least try?”
One area in particular Taylor would like to see explored is tax relief from the town. “We don’t get anything from the town -- no plowing, no trash or recycling pickup. We have our own septic for sewage,” said Taylor. “If I go in to the selectmen as the president of the cooperative, now I go in representing over 400 people – 400 votes.”
Morin said while the board had asked its management company, Evergreen Management, to inquire at town hall about tax relief for the cooperative, the board was apparently told by the tax assessor’s office that the property was assessed at a rate “of 300 individual homes instead of as one cooperative or corporation.” The result, he said, “was that we went up $330,000 on our taxes.”
“I guess I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t go further; why you wouldn’t go over the assessor’s head?” said Morin. “Why wouldn’t you go to the selectmen and try and get some relief?”
Homes in the development are available for purchase in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. In addition to paying mortgages on individual structures, residents of Medford Farms and The Village of Glen Falls also pay rent on the portions of land where their homes sit.